Microstigma rotunfdatum or M. anomalum

Helicopter Damselfly

Microstigma rotunfdatum or M. anomalum, Helicopter Damselfly image from Brazil


Family: Pseudostigmatidae

Length: 65 - 107 mm in the genus


One particularly interesting family that is found only in the Neotropics, from Mexico southward, is the Helicopter Damselfly family (Pseudostigmatidae).  These are very large damsels, with drab bodies but a prominent spot of color on the wing tips.  They are found even in the darkest rainforests, and seem almost ghostly as they move slowly in an unusual whirring flight that does indeed resemble that of a helicopter.

Morphologically the family is noted for having a multi-celled pterostigma, and behaviorally for their unusual prey specialization:  they pluck spiders from webs.  Also interesting is their life history:  the helicopter damselflies spend their larval life in water in tree holes and in the “water tanks” formed by bromeliads.

Microstigma (3 species) is found throughout the Amazon basin, and only there.  A similar genus, Megaloprepus, has a prominent, dark metallic blue band near the wing apex, sometimes with a whitish area on one or both sides of the blue band.

Photo location: Along the Rio Negro, Amazonas state, Brazil.


Note that this is both the family page for Pseudostigmatidae and the genus page for Microstigma


American Insects site